When teen con-artist Darius is approached by a mysterious government agent about joining a 'Project Oberon', he has no idea what to expect. Certainly not that Project Oberon is actually a top-secret experiment which sends teens back through time to prevent disasters before they happen! Before Darius has time to wonder why he's been chosen, his first mission arrives in the form of a huge electromagnetic weapon of mass destruction, which will kill millions of people in New York - unless Darius and the team can stop it. They're confident; it's all in a day's work for these teen wonders, but what they don't bet on is evil mastermind Ludd. And what they don't know is that Ludd knows the deadly secret behind Project Oberon. If Darius and the gang don't make it back to the portal within twenty-four hours, then they'll be lost in time forever...
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 5th 2013 by Hot Key Books
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I never know how to answer these! I’m 26, I have a wife who is a much better writer than I am (shut up, you know you are) and a daughter who just started kindergarten this year. I was born and raised in Tennessee. I don’t have the accent, and for a long time I thought I didn’t belong here, but I’m starting to realize that deep down I might actually be a Southerner. I took a vacation recently, which I used to thoroughly clean my apartment, beat Megaman 2 for like the fifth time, read The Name of the Rose and start up a Shadowrun campaign with some friends. So it’s safe to say that I’m a geek and a little bit of a homebody as well.
Tell us a bit about Portal 24?
It’s a story about young people who travel back in time to stop catastrophes before they happen! It’s also a story about trust, family, and what it feels like to grow up too fast and realize that none of the adults around you get that you can already see how fallible they are. Also: there is a suit of powered armor.
Describe your typical writing day.
I have crazy-bad ADD and a day job with an unpredictable schedule, so it’s hard to say what my writing day might be. What I typically do when I’m actually working on something is carry a notebook with me wherever I go, so that I can capture all those little images and pieces of fluff you never seem to get when you’re actually sitting down to write. The kind that make you think, “Oh! That would work so well in the story!” and then forget about before you’re done buying groceries. I end up with all these disparate quotes and descriptions and ideas for how I’d like scenes to go, and then when I get a day to myself I sit down and consolidate all my work, filling in the gaps and fleshing out the bones.
Were there any parts of the writing process that were particularly hard?
The early chapters set in Memphis, actually. My wife spent a huge part of her youth in a town outside the city and I hadn’t been until the book was almost finished, so I was horrified of getting a detail wrong and only finding out about it after the fact. Then I remembered that Stephen King wrote about a nonexistant river going through Birmingham in The Stand and felt a little better.
Could you share your favourite quote(s) from the book?
From when Darius meets Agent Grosz in the diner:
“‘Do you make a regular habit of threatening teenagers?’
She gave a short, mirthless laugh. ‘Yes, actually.’
I also had a lot of fun with all of Ludd’s villainous monologues, but since I can’t include all of them:
‘There was a time when the night, and the wilderness,
and all the horrors those entailed, played the role of the
guiding hand of our parent. But we outgrew our mother’s
ability to chastise us far too quickly. We are still, in all the
ways I can see, children, and you know what they say: Spare
the rod, spoil the child. And so here we find ourselves, and
I sincerely want you to know that what is about to happen
hurts me as much as it hurts you.’
Favourite character? Why?
I want to say agent Grosz, but I almost feel like I would be picking her for reasons that never made it into the book. My final answer would have to be Constance. She’s the character I relate to the most, and the one I would most enjoy spending time with. The rest of the kids are a little too intense for me.
If you were stranded on a desert island, which 3 books would you most like to have with you?
The Pathfinder Core Rulebook (but only because any edition of D&D is 3 whole books by itself) so I could teach the seagulls and crabs to play with me, The Road by Cormac McCarthy so I could remind myself that things could always be worse, and Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow because I really like Ragtime. I wanted to put Sandman on there as well, but it’s a graphic novel and at best like 11 different books so it gets left behind on a technicality.
Are you working on anything at the minute that you can share with us?
Not at the moment, no. I wish I was, but I haven’t made the plunge and quit my day job yet. Now that Portal 24 is out I really should start, though!